Williams Team Principal James Vowles says the team had vital points taken away from them as a result of Sergio Perez’s clash with Alex Albon.
Running in ninth place and pressuring Liam Lawson for eighth, Albon was on the receiving end of a lunge from Perez going into Turn 13 during the closing stages of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.
The pair came to blows and Albon was sent towards the wall, but managed to stop in time to avoid contact with the circuit perimeter.
However, the Anglo-Thai driver lost several positions and could only recover to 11th by the time the chequered flag fell.
Perez was later issued with a post-race five-second penalty, which didn’t affect his final position of eighth, and Vowles believes Albon and Williams received a far worse consequence from the incident.
“Quite a few points on the table were taken away,” the Williams Team Principal told Autosport.
“It is frustrating that when you’re in a championship that’s being fought down to the point, and you’re leading against your direct rivals in this championship, to have it taken away from you hurts.”
Williams finished last in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship with eight points – a position the once-great team has become accustomed to in recent years, but in 2023 progress has been made.
Following Singapore, Williams lies seventh in the Constructors’ standings on 21 points.
However, Haas closed in on Williams by a point to narrow the gap between the two teams to nine and with scoring coming at a premium for midfield teams, the Perez/Albon clash could have significant ramifications for the Grove-based squad come the end of the season.
With Haas set to adopt a Red Bull-like ‘downwash’ solution in a revised B-Spec car at Austin later this year, any points Williams can add to stretch the gap to its nearest rival is of paramount importance.
Instead, after Perez clashed with Albon, the opposite occurred.
“And without good reason either,” added Vowles. “It was a lunge – there are sensible ways of overtaking and that wasn’t the way to do it.
“For a number of laps prior Perez was very much on the inside and trying to put his nose there. That in itself isn’t a problem, you’ve got to do aggressive techniques. But Alex had already committed to the turn-in point. And it’s overlapping at the back and it was contact into the sidepod.
“There was no way that was going to work. So it’s incredibly frustrating. You are into fine, fine margins. And this could be what decides the championship positions.”
Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day.
Albon was also left feeling hard done by post-race, claiming that “it should have been P8 today, I’m pretty sure.”
“He almost T-boned me pretty much into Turn 13 and I got stuck and I couldn’t get out,” he added.
“I had to reverse, face the wall and that was pretty much it really.”
Finishing eighth would have added a further four points to both Albon and Williams’ tallies – with the former Red Bull driver having scored the entirety of his current team’s points so far in 2023.
Albon’s team-mate Logan Sargeant is still searching for his first score of the season, with a meeting with the barriers on Lap 20 costing him any chance of a decent result on Sunday.
Williams, Vowles, Albon and Sargeant will need to shrug their collective disappointment off quickly, with the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka taking place this coming weekend.
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